Knee Injury and Pain in Yoga

By Niki Vetten

Knee injury in yoga usually involves tearing the Meniscus, a double ring of cartilage between the Femur (thighbone) and the Tibia (lower leg bone) – either through carelessness – by practicing asanas with the feet and the knees pointing in different directions, or in Padmasana. It is also possible to overstretch the supporting ligaments at the sides of the knees. People also experience pain behind the knee, on the outer side of the knee, on the inner side below the knee or around the Patella (kneecap) itself.

Knee pain should never be ignored, in the hope that it will go away – the causes need to be investigated and dealt with before attempting any asanas that are painful. It is also highly risky to practice when there is swelling around the knees because swelling inhibits stabilisation by the muscles attached to the Patella and can lead to injury. Students and teachers should take care to avoid this kind of injury because the majority of Meniscus tears require surgery and rarely heal by themselves because the blood supply to cartilage is very limited. Knee problems are complex because some kinds of knee pain comes from an actual injury to knee structures like the meniscus or ligaments, but most other knee pain is caused by instability of the hips, which can cause structural damage in the knee.

The Gluteus Medius is the main stabiliser of the pelvis and if it is weak the pelvis tilts to the side when standing on one leg, while the knee tends to sway inwards when it is bent, putting pressure on knee structures. Hip muscle imbalances also creates rotational stress which can cause injury in Padmasana. This is explained in more detail in Knees and Padmasana

The relationship between the hips and the knees is explained in more detail in How Hip Problems Cause Knee Pain and for more information on the Gluteus Medius, please read Lateral Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice

Another source of knee pain are the Quadricep muscles, this pain occurs mostly around the kneecap and in asanas like Virasana and is detailed in Pain at the Kneecap

Reading sources: Ellenbecker, De Carlo, DeRosa, 2009, Effective Functional Progressions in Sport Rehabilitation Sports Injury Bulletin: Meniscal Tears Sports Injury Bulletin: Knee Rehabilitation Sports Injury Bulletin: Popliteus

Author: Niki Vetten

View Profile

Visit Niki’s Website: Yoga Anatomy for the Perplexed

Here are some of the other articles posted here by Nikki Vetten:
  • Back Flexibility with Yoga March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten As we get older our spines bend less, mostly because of the effects of gravity on the spinal discs, which begin to dehydrate and become compressed after 30, reducing the spaces between the facet joints in the vertebrae and limiting movement. Gravity and an upright human posture also causes some the spinal muscles ...
  • Using hip muscles effectively in yoga practice – part 1: bridging and back bending March 7, 2014 By Niki Vetten Weak Gluteal muscles are very common amongst yoga students and teachers alike and cause Sacroiliac pain and dysfunction, lower back pain and hamstring injury. Causes and symptoms are covered in the article on yoga butt and this post looks at the effects of various hip movement cues taught in yoga. Different instructions are ...
  • Understanding and Managing Sacroiliac Pain in Yoga Practice March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten It is common for yogis to develop painful sacroiliac joints, with serious consequences: dysfunction at the sacroiliac joint inhibits the hip muscles and starts a vicious cycle of hip instability and body misalignment. Painful sacroiliac joints must be treated and stabilised to avoid chronic pain and it is not advisable to continue with ...
  • Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter 1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic ...
  • Lower Back Pain and Alignment March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Another cause of lower back pain is found in the alignment of the left and right sides of the body, some bodies are structurally asymmetrical: one leg is shorter than the other, or the pelvic halves are different sizes, people can be born that way, or their structure can be altered by bone ...
View more articles by Niki

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match